Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Refinement in Daily Life

Stone Bridge Cottage, by Sung Kim, (American)


A lot of depression and discouragement can be alleviated by having a daily observance or quiet celebration. A time set aside each day for taking tea in a special cup, or just sitting still for a quiet hour restores the mind and regulates jumbled, racing thoughts. I have worked at making the morning tea a regular ritual, and have noticed a difference in my health and presence of mind when I skip the ceremony, as small as it is.

This morning I have got out an old cup for morning tea.

Now I am ready to restore order in the house and plan some extra things to do, which I plan to feature here in a few days.

I am always on the lookout for rose-themed cups like this at Goodwill and garage sales. The price is almost nothing at thrift stores, but teacups are getting harder to find. I use my teacups and give them a regular workout by having guests for tea.


And now I am on to another subject; that of polite behaviour with your whole presence. This is from an old lesson I taught many years ago to children, but its message needs to be revived for grown children, young ladies and a few older ones.



In the home it is not polite to block someone in a hallway. It is rude to crowd up too close to a family member in the kitchen or put pressure on someone by getting too close to them, crowding them, especially if they object. In our country, people believe in minding their own business , as the New Testament teaches, and so it is considered rude to look over someone's shoulder to see what they are reading or writing or doing, unless invited. It is also rude to be too inquisitive about personal, private matters, the exception being parents with their own children.



Politeness in public requires us to avoid being too curious about what someone is eating (peering closely at their plate or their beverage) and it is rude to try to get involved in a conversation to which you are not invited, especially with people you do not know well. This all begins in the home, where family members should not hover over someone who is eating or writing or reading.



One of the very first lessons many of us were taught by our parents was the value of minding your own business. This is more of a principle than a rule, since it has far-reaching results. If you as a young lady will always be reticent with people and keep a polite distance, not nosing into other people's personal things, you can never get a bad reputation or be labeled as a nuisance.



In shopping situations, do not walk in front of people while they are looking at merchandise, nor try to look at the same item or get too close to something they are buying. Shoppers do not like people to see what they are buying. Even though shopping is a public activity, people's purchases are private, and the amount of money they pay at the checkout is private, so it is polite to stand back and at least not look as if you are too curious about their transactions. It is best to stand a little distance and not look at what they are doing, that is, if you are really trying to be polite.


In any social setting, never stand up in the middle of two people talking so that they cannot see each other. That is as bad as having too large a centerpiece on the dining table which blocks everyone's view of one another. Also, be careful when in a group not to sit with your back to someone (this does not include church, where everyone faces the speaker or song leader). Children are not actually as guilty of this as are adults. I have been to baby showers and wedding showers where I have seen ladies place a chair right in front of someone blocking them from the conversational circle. (Classes are valuable to demonstrate what these sort of things really look like.)


Sometimes people use their bodies to be over-bearing with others in public. In Church, there is often a time after the worship dismissal to converse with people, and it is necessary to be aware that you can block other people from visiting with certain ones if you stand too close and monopolize anyone. Socializing is like a dance, in that you have to allow others to cut-in when you see they are politely waiting on the side to talk to the one you are near. When they do that, assume they have tapped you on the shoulder and are wanting their turn with the guest.




I observed once that a couple had come to church from another state, and after the meeting was dismissed, one person seemed to "swamp" this couple, blocking them from meeting anyone else. Only when everyone had given up waiting to welcome the couple and gone home, lights were finally turned off and the preacher said he needed to lock the meeting house, did this couple escape the rude, over-bearring person who stood in the way of others greeting them.



Another problem that you need to be aware of is that of engaging in troll-like social behavior in the church and other social situations. A troll is someone who follows you around. Sometimes in a church fellowship, when a person sees someone talking to someone else, they immediately go over there and take over the conversation. They may follow the person around and discourage her from socializing at all. This is not the same as watching your children or staying close to your mother, which is appropriate in social situations. I am speaking to young ladies who may be forgetting to be polite and neglecting to respect people and keep a little distance.



In Victorian times, young ladies were deliberately taught not to be too forward or too imposing, and to be quiet and discreet; to "know their place". In this day and age, such teaching sounds too formal, but whatever is good about society, particularly church, becomes miserable when someone trolls other people and will not sit quietly and mind their own business. Several times I have seen rude women, young and old, cause people to physically stiffen, retreat and shrink back from fellowshipping, because they felt they were being trailed or monitored in their personal conversations with other people. That is not the same thing as watching that someone does not get lost in a hallway or helping someone to find their car in the parking lot, or making sure people are safe. The personal monitoring I am describing is a rude, in-your-face snooping.


There are probably many more things that can be said about how you can be polite with your personal presence around other people, but it would take volumes to explain every detail. A really discerning person will learn to detect the reception they get and read people's body language. If they are not real receptive to you, learn to take the hint before you cause verbal anger in the other person.


The New Testament, the spiritual law of Christ for this age, makes behavior very simple to understand by the admonition to be courteous in 1 Peter 3:8. Courtesy is the act of making sure others are respected and not offended by what you are doing. It means putting the comfort of others above your own and not aggravating them in any way. As a young lady, you need to be grown up enough not to have every little thing spelled out for you down to the tiniest detail, as when you were a toddler.

Being grown-up means to pay attention to your own behavior and restrain yourself in order to be courteous and non-threatening to others. When you are out-of-control in your social life, people will be correcting your or avoiding you.The mark of a mature lady is being self controlled so that others never have to control you.


Sola Scriptura said...

Such good advice!

Southern Ladye said...

Good manners never go out of style and your post was spot on! Very good advice, indeed!

Susan said...

Very well said. I have learned recently that I have to be very persistent in protecting myself and family from rudeness. It is all around us these days and one of the things that fuels it is that no one is correcting these children and adults. Without correction they will continue to be rude to others and never learn proper manners.

In the grocery yesterday a child pushed a shopping cart over the foot of another patron when his mother was not looking. They proceeded to move on without an apology or correction to the child on the mother's part. The other patron became very angry and an argument ensued. I am sure the child learned nothing from the whole display because the mother had no idea how to apologize for the accident. The angry woman was correct in her behavior to try to correct the child, yet I heard other patrons whispering about how rude she was. I am encountering things like this everywhere I go today.

Correction is important and those of us who have to defend our families against rude, disrupting behavior cannot feel bad about doing it. It is necessary to keep harmony in our homes.

I am looking forward to seeing what is going on around your house these days.

Miss Betsy said...

Enjoyed your very wise and well-written article.

Recently I watched a few "reality" television shows and I am concerned about the level of rudeness/crudeness. I am sure the shows' producers do this for "drama" but I am afraid some people watching may think this kind of talk and behavior is completely appropriate or even admirable.

Again, thank you for your wonderful writings, Lady Lydia.

Lydia said...

I have been hearing about the crudeness on those shows but have not seen them. I want to write about crudeness soon, because I have been to some social events where I almost cried when some of the ladies began making crude remarks...I saw several of the more refined ladies get up and go out of the room when it happened, and there were some precious little girls there too who were exposed to such talk.

Christine said...

Wonderful and timeless advice, as usual Lady Lydia,
I am troubled on a daily basis by the lack of plain good manners, and the vulgar language that I hear from women of any age. It makes me sad, actually..

Andrea R said...

Oh how I love this article! The country has all but lost any manners they once had!

Grocery shopping, once an enjoyable affair for ladies and their children, has become a loud ruckus of unruly screaming children (and sometimes parents, as well) and men either shopping for the family meals, or being led around by the woman so he can tell her what to buy for him to make..odd and with little care for anyone else.

Public and loud cell phone calls are common, without any care to anyone else not wanting to hear about this person's ex-boyfriends cousins scandal.

When I take our children out, or when our entire family goes out, it is our goal and mission to ensure that they I want my children to respect the space and privacy of others, and also the noise level.

They have been taught to speak quietly, and appropriately in public. People will marvel at how well behaved our children are..I think they don't understand it's not all that remarkable..perhaps just unusual. They are used to seeing people with one or two children acting like animals, so to see eight who are helpful and polite and being respectful is mind boggling. That's the same way I feel about how people can live with children trampling their feet and yelling and whining all day.

Our local "Christian" radio station is something I can barely listen to, as one of the prized announcers follows this "gentle parenting" modern garbage and frequently goes on and on about a challenge with their behavior in public she is unwilling to discipline for. I wrote her once and implored her to care enough to correct and discipline. She wrote back with a tone of implying I was an abuser. I expected as much!

God bless you Lydia!

Lydia said...

Andrea, when people in influence, such as media are dumbing down the populace through their broadcasts, it makes it hard on everyone who is trying to keep a higher code. What amazes me is how abnormal they think good children are. I was once told that such children were not "spontaneous" because when invited to do something that was noisy or rambunctious, they answered "you will have to talk to our mother first" and would not participate without permission. Good children are now considered psychologically abused.

Andrea R said...

Sorry about any spelling/grammatical errors in my above comment..I was feeding my baby..should have spell-checked! It's a mess, ha!

Andrea R said...

Absolutely, Lydia!

My children can be loud..they are kids...they can become too rough, they are kids..but it's what is allowed. If the boys want to wrestle and play rough, they can go outside. My girls don't like hearing it, and neither do I. I do like boys to be allowed to be boys, but they all know the limits..someone doesn't want to play, you stop..someone doesn't want to rough house, you don't, and not in the house or public.

There is such a huge misunderstanding of what discipline is, today. They conjure up images of abuse, because that's how they need to view discipline in order to justify their no discipline approach (ie: lazy). Their children are the ones who are violent..with the hitting and kicking the parents and wild fits in public. They are the ones biting other children and making others feel badly because they have not learned restraint or discipline or character and compassion.

As any parent who follows the Biblical commandment to discipline their children (which is an act of love) and has children that are raised or nearly raised will tell you, most of the hard work is completed by age 3!

My children rarely needed a physical punishment once they turned 3. By the time they were (are) 5, it's pretty non-existent, because the follow-through with discipline when they are young lays the groundwork and it's completed rather quickly.

I have a challenging 2 year old at the present time..but because I love him, I will not allow him the excuse of "terrible two's" so that he ruins the perception of what a blessing a child is, on the part of anyone who needs to be around him, like so many others do. It's just a season. God gave him to his father and I to raise to be an adult, not a forever child..

Lydia said...

I find it diffucukt to spell well when the computer takes over the word and finishes it,sometimes in a different word than I intended. It makes it tedious to type so slowly in order to watch that. I have looked at my sent messages on email and noticed the crazy way it spelled words. People wrote back and ask me what I meant by such a strange word.

Miss Betsy said...

One of the things I have noticed lately is that in public I hear people using very foul language. When I grew up men did not talk that way in front of ladies. Recently I was in a coffee shop with a friend and the tables are extremely close. Two men sitting less than two feet away from me were peppering their loud conversation with terrible expletives. I was so happy when they left. I have noticed this quite a bit lately and I just try to ignore it but I think it is extremely rude. It may be where I live (San Francisco Bay Area) that this is more common or it may be "a sign of the times". But I really miss the days when men noticed that there were women around and showed respect by not using such horrible language.

anonymous said...

Lydia, I agree with your post about the poor manners of people today. It doesn't surprise me since society is dumbing down, dressing down and losing virtue.

I have been guilty of all the above and more. Thanks to the Lord who convicts, helps us repent and forgives, I am a different person today.

Instead of being discouraged I will keep learning, dressing modestly, practice and teach my children the virtues I've learned from the bible. I may be ridiculed and laughed at, but only by the ignorant or shameful.
Actions speak louder then words. Lessons are sometimes taught or caught. Hopefully others will see and desire the peace I have.

Keep up the good posts. They are encouraging.
Mrs. J.

Songsparrowgarden said...

Another amazing article dear Lydia!! Spot on!!

A few days ago, in the morning on the train, I saw an old friend. We worked together for years until she was let go. Being very religious and peppering every conversation she has lavishly with phrases of 'God', she was able to find another position with a religious organization - - and you would 'THINK' she is honorable. At least, I thought so. Imagine my surprise, there she was on the train one morning recently, I hadn't seen her for ages. She was walking thru, the seat next to me was vacant, she said 'I'll be right back.' Moments later someone wanted the vacant seat but I said, sorry that seat is taken; the woman sat elsewhere. Imagine my surprise when the 'friend' NEVER came back. And when I looked thru the open doors of the train I could see my 'friend' sitting in the next car, first seat, not 10 feet away from me, talking to her other friend. She never came back, never excused herself from the friend to talk to me for even 10 seconds; never sat on the seat I held for her. That's the second time she 'set me up' so-to-speak. She won't get a third time. When I got off the train I apologized to the woman who wanted the seat, looked at the back of the head of the woman I thought was my friend, and got off the train. When I got to work I removed all traces of her business card, address, phone number, etc. from my phone book. Should she ever appear to want to talk to me again, I will look her in the eye, then walk away. I didn't need her to hold my hand. . but if you say you're coming back - - I thought that means you come back, even if only for a quick moment. Evidently not to this Godly woman. . how sad. In me, she lost a truly honorable and caring friend.